We have received some complaints about fish getting caught in netting material, thrashing around and breaking their fins or jaws. And so we thought it appropriate to tell how we thought a net should best be used. I have seen some fishermen net their fish and then lift it four feet out of the water. Then they pluck it out of the net and hold it next to their face so that their partner can get a photo. This may take several minutes to get the pose just right. Sometimes the slippery rascal (actually a protective mucous) slides out of his hands and drops to the bank. So here is why we think that a landing net is an invaluable tool. The number one reason for fish kills is overplaying. During a prolonged fight, a fish builds up lactic acid in its system. Too much exertion and the lactic acid will prove fatal even though the fish might swim away after being released. Secondly, fish have evolved in an environment that is akin to being in outer space. Gravity is not an issue so they have developed skeletal frames that are minimal but more than enough to support their internal organs. Once out of the water they are subjected to the same gravitational forces as ourselves but without the body structure to deal with it. And the bigger the fish, the more the problem. Thirdly, fish can breathe only in water. When they are out of the water they are going to go bezerk, gulping for air. If they are in a net when that happens, that’s when fins and jaws can break. Holding a fish out of water is like water boarding for us. The best way to make sure that your fish survives is to never let it leave its home environment- the water. Think of a landing net as a corral. You can land your fish quickly, reducing lactic acid build-up, and your quarry will remain calm as long as it is in the water. You can easily remove the fly (which has a barbless hook) and give the fish time to recover. You will also have ample time to take as many photos as you want. The meaning of the old simile “like a fish out of water” should be taken literally by us.
About as far as is best for lifting a fish out of the water